Mother claims district did not supervise child enough

Editor's note: This version removes the child's name.

The mother of an 8-year-old special education student has accused a Huntington Beach school district of negligently supervising her son, leading to more than a dozen injuries.

Amanda Mitchell filed a claim May 7 on behalf of her son against the Ocean View School District for negligently supervising him despite the fact that they had knowledge that he would need increased supervision to attend school unharmed. Mitchell also contends that the district violated her son's civil rights and discriminated against him for his disability by doing so, according to the claim. A claim is the precursor to a lawsuit.

"The [district] has a duty to [the minor] to supervise his actions to ensure that he has a safe and secure learning environment," according to the claim. "The actions of the [district] … breached that duty. Said actions caused [the minor] to suffer damage."

The Ocean View District Board of Trustees denied the claim June 15, said William Loose, assistant superintendent of administrative services.

Michael Declues, the attorney representing the district, wouldn't comment on the accusations made in the claim, but pointed out that all the incidents occurred at the Speech and Language Development Center, an off-campus site where the minor takes classes through a contract with the district.

From July 2009 to March, the child sustained a number of injuries, mostly by hitting his head on various objects, that have not been fully disclosed in an injury report to Mitchell, according to the claim.

The minor was allowed to ride a bike in October and fell off, scratching himself. Later in January, staff told the boy to walk away from a computer cabinet, to which he replied by banging his head on the cabinet's door, a nearby toy bin and a wall, causing his forehead to swell, according to the claim.

In February, the boy was told to walk away from a swing set, so he hit his head against it. Staff had the boy wear a helmet after the incident, but the same day, he hit his head on bicycle handlebars.

"The district allowed [the minor] to injure himself on numerous occasions. The responses of district staff were nearly always reactionary," according to the claim. "The only proactive strategy … was to require [the minor] to wear a helmet. And, as noted in the facts above, this strategy was ineffective."

Mitchell is asking the district to pay for "physical and emotional damages."

No lawsuit has been filed, according to Orange County District Court records.

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